I just returned from Santa Barbara where I went to the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) hearing where they allowed the public to comment on SmartMeters and the purposed increase in opt out fees.
These hearings are always held at times that are difficult for people to attend (3:00pm on a Friday) for that very reason. They really don’t want to hear from us. In spite of that there was an overflow crowd. People were anxious to speak and most were furious. The CPUC was to listen to the public objections to SmartMeters and the fees imposed. But there was only one Commissioner there and a judge.
This is the problem with government control of anything. Once they have control they change the terms as time goes on. They always assure us all is well, nothing to see here. But even if they have the best of intentions, the next administration may not. The opt out fee has been $75 plus $10 a month forever. Now they want to double that. And the gas company has already said they are going to install a second SmartMeter for gas with an opt out fee of $124 plus $24 a month. One woman said her gas bill was only $15 a month and the fee would be more than she spends on gas. The water department will roll theirs out next and we’ll have three SmartMeters or three opt our fees and monthly charges. These fees are punitive and obviously intended to coerce people into accepting the meters. People are being forced to pay NOT to buy something they don’t want.
It was a very interesting and informative meeting. I strongly encourage as many of you as possible go to all or some of the remaining meetings. My objections to the meters have been three fold; they are being forced on us without public debate or independent studies; they are the most invasive assault on our privacy ever conceived; and they can turn off individual appliances without our consent. I have heard there were health concerns but I felt they were anecdotal and a distraction from the true intention of SmartMeters controlling our use of energy.
Several doctors spoke about the American Board of Environmental Medicine. They say non ionizing radiation is a carcinogen. They recommend SmartMeters be banned from use. There were several electrical engineers who spoke of the dangers of clusters of SmartMeters (as they are in apartment buildings). One woman said she owns a condo and that ten meters are outside her kitchen. She gets heart palpitations, headaches and dizziness. Many had similar symptoms.
I was heartened when Assemblyman Pedro Nava spoke. He said there should be NO fees to opt out. He said it was punitive and hurt those least able to afford the fees. Also one of the five Santa Barbara District Supervisors got up and said they voted five to nothing against any opt out fees.
Several people said they had installed solar panels but still where having to pay $10 a month in opt our fees. Most people were angry that these meters are being installed against their will, without notice. They were angry that no independent studies were done on the effects of the radiation from the meters. They’re angry that there was no public debate or studies done BEFORE the investment in the meters. Several men explained how the meters could have been hard wired instead of microwaved.
Several people talked about how the information could be hacked. People could find out if you were home or not, on vacation, having guests, have a home business, etc. The information the meters record is vary valuable to many businesses and you can be sure it will be sold many times over to target advertising to individuals.
Even if you can’t make any of the meetings, I strongly urge you to write to the CPUC (505 Van Ness Ave., Room 2103, San Francisco, CA 94102 or e-mail Public.Advisor@cpuc.ca.gov) to demand that fees not be increased. Tell them there should be NO fees to opt out. People should NOT have to pay to protect themselves and their families from possible dangers to their health and invasion of their privacy.